By Liam Scheff
July 5, 2013
“Fracking will give us energy independence!” goes the drumbeat. But is it true? A sober analysis of what’s really in the rocks comes up with a number much closer to 10 years of fuel – not 20, 50 or the 100 once advertised. [Link]
But isn’t 10 years of fuel worth digging some holes? I doubt it. Fracking destroys water tables, air quality and local land. It’s a messy, dangerous and endlessly toxic method of grabbing some remaining dirty oil and gas out of shale rock.
Fracking requires forcing metric tons of clean water through deep, horizontally-drilled well holes – these are beneath and in the water table. This water is filled with sand and 600 chemicals, gelling agents, fire-retardants and other carcinogens. The water is not reclaimable – it has to sit in toxic pools on the surface, or bleed back into the rock. [Link]
The gas that is released finds its way into drinking water, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. The 600 chemicals do, too.
Being against fracking is not political – it’s biological. Being for it is not economical, unless economics is measured without recording the human sickness and death it causes.
The Why of Fracking
We live in the era of the decline of cheaply, easily-available light, sweet crude oil. The Middle East is on the decline. Texas peaked its production way back in 1970. The short-term grab at ‘fracked’ oil and gas has about a 10 year – maybe – lifespan – and it will leave very large, densely populated areas of the country with ruined water, land, and, in the short term, ruined air.
There is no ‘market-driven’ way out of the change that is required to keep us from running low on light, sweet crude. The fact that we’re digging into sulfuric tar and miserable shale and calling it “oil” only makes my point for me.
We have oil in the country that remains – and I’m sure we’ll use it, until we can’t breathe, see, drink – or live in many places.
But, it’s a big, last swig from a poisoned cup. Meanwhile, some of Europe and South America is getting the message – building windmills, solar arrays and reclaiming once lost thermal waste. We cannot live forever in the “endless growth, Wal*Mart, autobahn society” – but we can live with electricity in a moderate, non-growth, non-car, but probably much happier, more creative society.
This isn’t a short-term solution to anything – except the human species. It’s not a short-term argument, either. This is where we now live – in the permanent decline of what we’ve always had. What we now take for granted as a permanent state – and what we will have to live without: cheap oil. We may have some mini-gluts in the next 10 years from fracking; we may draw more from Iraq, but the reality will not be lost on those losing land, homes, drinking water, health and life to the ‘new normal.’
Get ahead of the curve and start planning for the end of a certain way of life now – and the beginning of another. If we want to have some comfort during the great transition, we’d better be building windmills wherever they’re useful, solar where it’s effective – both thermal and electric – and increasing every measure and method of reduction of energy use.
I know we won’t, as a group – but as individuals, in our towns and villages, we’ll out-think the unthinking petrol-driven marketplace, and demonstrate a wiser brand of existence to the frightened mob.
Liam Scheff is the author of “Official Stories,” because “official stories exist to protect officials.”